MONSTER FEST is Australia’s premier genre film festival which takes place annually in October and November, it is a celebration of the weird and wonderful in horror and cult cinema. I was lucky enough to experience the Melbourne leg for the first time. Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth are all getting the full Monster Fest experience running from October 31st to November 3rd.
The festival was electric with a Monster Fest photo booth, vendors and a party like atmosphere at many of the screenings. The films I have mentioned are what I was able to fit in with my five-film pass that I would highly recommend. There are many heavy hitters I didn’t get to catch such as the new Rob Zombie flick “3 From Hell.” Check out the schedule for the full program.
TAMMY AND THE T-REX
First up for the late-night Friday screening was Tammy & The T-Rex a film from 1994 that stars Denise Richards (Wild Things) and Paul Walker (Fast & the Furious) in two of their earliest starring roles. The premise, a love affair between a young woman and her boyfriend whose brain has been implanted inside an animatronic T-Rex. Sound crazy? That doesn’t even begin to describe how ridiculously amazing this film is. Originally this was released as a children’s film with the gore cut, the insane gore effects have now been restored much to the delight of B movie fans. This is one of those rare cases where a batshit film poster lives up to the film it is promoting.
Some highlights included; the giant animatronic Dino running around spying on his ex-girlfriend. Mr T-Rex snuggling in a barn with his HUMAN GIRLFRIEND along with plenty of over the top splatter scenes such as bad guys getting their heads bitten off. Bonus points for a gang of lousy no good early 90’s punks.
Slightly blurry eyed from the previous nights viewing and a few very reasonably priced festival beers thanks to Moon Dog I headed back to Cinema Nova for Dick Dale’s TRASHARAMA shorts program on Saturday afternoon. The queue was huge with fiends from all over swarming to check out Adelaide’s fearless trash peddler present his selection of “The sickest, gnarliest and funniest short films from the around the darkest corners of the planet.”
The films themselves were a wild selection of engaging shorts from the creepy, to the hilarious, to the sick and twisted. Some of my favourites were “Deadcember” “Zombie Took my Dingo” filmed in Alice Springs and “Hobo Sewer Slaughter” that took out the Golden Lomax for Trasharama’s best short. At one point there was a stick of butter handed out to one lucky audience member that tied in with one of the grossest things I have ever seen on film.
It occurred to me during the screening what a great sense of community genre fans in Australia have. The message from Dick Dale to, “make your own damn movie”, so he can show it next year was very punk rock and inspiring.
I took a quick breather then headed back to another cinema for the screening of “Rabid”, a reimaging of the 1977 David Cronenberg film of the same name, written, directed and produced by the Soska Sisters from Canada. The twin sisters are a buzz name in the horror community with a growing list of impressive efforts under their belt.
Rabid centres around a meek woman who suffers a horrific accident, she undergoes an experimental treatment that leads to the transformation of her fortunes and her identity. The film is essentially an infection film that feels slick with great production value. The film is set in the cut-throat fashion world, I appreciated the female perspective around themes of inclusion and identity tied into all this with some pretty intense imagery and gross out effects paying homage to the great David Cronenberg.
COLOUR OUT OF SPACE
After a couple of days off I returned to Monster Fest on the Wednesday night for “Colour Out of Space.” Based on an H.P Lovecraft story the film was the big winner at the Melbourne festival taking out the Golden Monster for ‘Best Film’ and ‘Best Director’ for Richard Stanley., The film stars Nicholas Cage and Joley Richardson as parents raising their family in a rural area when a meteor lands on the property and begins to change the surrounding area.
The film is both surreal and visually stunning with the colour virtually exploding out of the screen, while offering up plenty of horrific imagery and an old school sci-fi feel updated for the modern era. Throw in an over the top Nicholas Cage, “freak out”, performance and a pot smoking shaman played by Tommy Chong and you have one of the most mesmerising genre films of the year.
The Last stop on my Monster Fest journey for 2019 was the 30th Anniversary screening of cult Australian Slasher “Houseboat Horror” followed by a cast & crew reunion Q&A Session. The film is a low budget piece of Australiana unlike any other I have experienced. The low budget gem follows a rock and roll band who are on a mission to film a music video on a houseboat, drink stupid amounts of VB, deliver ridiculous dialogue and wear big 80s hair.
It was a great way to end the festival hearing those involved recount their fond memories and misgivings about their involvement in the film as young artists. One poor bloke spoke about spending hours cutting the film in the back of a van in an empty lot on the fringes of Melbourne.
This was my first Monster Fest and my only regret is I didn’t start attending sooner, check out the schedule for your chance to see some great films on the big screen when the festival hits your city.